Too much to ask?

Without trying to add to the drama, and mindful of the solo focused way I play EVE, I did want to remark on a concern I have about the Entosis mechanism.

It expects pilots to be consistently available to play EVE in certain windows of time. Step outside of Empire or want to use larger structures, and those windows grow in size.

It puts casual players defending at a distinct disadvantage.

In 2014 the average age of the EVE player was around 32. That is a prime time to be managing a career, marriage, kids, mortgage, and all the responsibilities of adulthood. I have a suspicion that many EVE players are actually more casual in nature, with limited free time and flexibility.

I currently only have one semi-reliable window to play EVE each week, between 10 am and Noon on Sunday. I manage to play then maybe 50% of the time. The rest of my EVE sessions are a sporadic 30 minutes here, 60 minutes there. I commonly only spend a few hours a week undocked. There is no way I can cover even the most basic of vulnerability windows.

Boohoo, it’s tough to be me.

What if the 4 or 5 real life friends I’ve historically played EVE with returned? They are busy like me. What sort of vulnerability window would we be able to reliably cover as a group? A medium structure in High-Sec should be fine, but we wouldn’t manage a large structure in a wormhole.

How many casual players would I need to get together to do something in Null-Sec?

The Entosis mechanism should work ok for a large, well organised group of defenders – even if mostly casual. They will have their procedures documented and down pat, suitable doctrine ships available on contract, and a critical mass of pilots. Even if only a couple percent of them are online during vulnerable periods, they can put up a suitable defence and not burn out.

But these same groups were able to exist comfortably enough under the Dominion Sovereignty system. I didn’t want to join them then, and I don’t want to join them now.

For defending groups without that critical mass, I can see a situation where their pilots quickly tired of having to align their play time and in game focus just on the Entosis Mechanism.

Thinking at the smaller end of the scale, I don’t think there should be such a focus on pilots being online. A POS can currently automatically defend itself – so should sovereignty and player structures. Make a player have to configure them appropriately, and accept a loss of utility for this defence. Obviously also make such a defence more effective if manned, like POS are now.

I don’t like the idea of being trolled out of assets because I don’t have hours of free time to sit around, not having fun, babysitting them. I am far more likely to put the time and expense into using mechanisms like this when I feel attackers have to make some non-trivial risk and effort to remove them.

It is hard to say all this without looking like a tool with a large sense of self entitlement. I don’t expect EVE to cater to my unique circumstance. Hopefully I am wrong and casual players are in fact in the minority. If I am right however, I’m not sure the current mechanism as is will be healthy long term.

Is CCP asking too much of its players?

6 thoughts on “Too much to ask?

  1. I too am a soloish casual player and when big changes like these come along it leaves us soloish casuals with adaptation questions much like everybody else. Keep in mind that in addition to weighing the burdens of partaking in the new stuff is also the option to search out niches of play not relying on said new stuff. I happen to be primarily an empire based Industrialist meaning I was handed just such questions back when Crius dropped. Things looked grim. Sans setting up a POS and spending exorbitantly on Teams, it appeared there would be no way for me to compete. After far too much grumping, I decided on a ‘challenge accepted’ approach and set out to see if I could flourish 1) without Teams and 2) without a POS (because both would have been troublesomely time consuming to effectively utilize). The answer, after a little rethinking and adaptation was yes – there’s plenty of room to thrive as a casual, soloish Industrialist if you’re clever about it.

    Curiously, the entire Team concept was eventually dumped due to lack of interest revealing that I wasn’t the only player to take a look at the convoluted mechanics and decide to purposely avoid it. This actually reveals a wonderful thing about Eve. The game is so big players are not obligated to partake in any particular aspect. Accordingly, this allows CCP to make sizable changes without fear that the entire player base will be lost. Not to say those undergoing CCP’s loving attention won’t squeal and moan (I did too), but rather that dedicated players tend to stick around and adapt.

    So we and CCP will eventually come to know if the Entosis mechanism as presented is a hit or miss by observing if players partake long run. If people are building the new structures and tenaciously trying to hang on to them it’s probably a hit. If people instead purposely avoid the new mechanics (say via mass migration to NPC spaces) we’ll know it’s a failure. It’s happened before. It will happen again. Today’s version just happens to be atypically large scale.

    • Good point – more recently CCP has shown itself inclined to adjust and make changes when required. The concern is how much damage is done to player goodwill before they do that.

  2. IMHO and inna nutshell… yes, they are.

    It’s like Incarna and monocle gate… Once again they have lost sight of the very basic fact that EVE is, after all is said and done, after all the slogans and “Serious Business” and “EVE is Real” and all the BS… EVE is, in the end, just a game.

    Yup, I said it… EVE IS JUST A GAME. It is not real life, it is not how I make my living, it is most definitely not anywhere near as important to me as my home or my family. It is a game I PLAY… for social interaction with friends and anti-social interactions with ‘others’, to pass the time, for (dare I say it?? yes, I dare… for) fun.

    I think CCP has lost sight of the ‘fun’ aspect. For the people at CCP EVE is Real and it is their real lives and it is how they make their living and it is 24/7/365 (-vacation though I doubt many truly stop thinking about it even then)… it is their job and career and it is where their stress and ulcers come from. I have always wondered if EVE is ‘fun’ for the Devs. Oh we know they appreciate us and our enthusiasm and love of the game, but is it ‘fun’ for them?

    Granted I am a wormholer and have nodesirewhatsoever to ever fly in nullsec, but Fozziesov simply does not sound at all fun to me. And I am worried about it and the new structures effects on wormhole gameplay. Though TBH, I have logged into EVE only twice in the last month… and no one in my corp was on, and so I logged off and logged into E:D instead.

    And yeah… that worries me a lot too. You see I am flying solo in E:D even though I have 2 good friends there and at least one moar I could look up if I tried… and yet I prefer to spend my noobhood learning on my own as twere, making mistakes and blundering along learning from direct experience, not second hand from someone else’s experiences…

    And I am having a BALL. I am really having FUN… fun like I have not had since my early days in EVE… and that worries me for EVE. How many others are finding EVE less fun that something else?

    I looked at EVE Offline last night and got a bit of a shock… just over 18k players online in my prime playtime, 11PM EST… prime US East Coast playtime… and only just over 18,000 players online. Since November 2010 when I first joined EVE I have never seen that low a number at 11PM EST…

    I have no answers… but CCP needs to make Sov Fun again… they need to take a hard look at what fun is and what is fun and how fun can be brought back to Sov.

    I play EVE for fun… and if it aint fun anymoar… well, what would YOU do?

    • Another good view point. I suspect CCP have focused too much on making the Entosis mechanism fun for the attackers, without considering enough what the defenders will really think.

  3. CCP seems to be moving more and more towards a meta where active playing is rewarded while inactive or passive playing is penalized.

    The dominion system left certain areas of sovnull barren and deserted, with only occasional thoroughfare, while other areas saw much more activity. In dominion, taking these empty systems was only marginally easier than taking the well-used systems, unless there was neither an ihub nor station in the system, which should have been (and should stll be) pretty rare unless the sov holder was grossly incompetent. If there was, say, an ihub in an unused system, it would take either an immense amount of time or an immense amount of DPS (usually both) to take this system even though no one really used it — at least 4 days of reinforcement plus the time actually spent bashing the structures, assuming no defenders showed up and no actual combat occurred, which would be unlikely because reinforcement timers and notifications meant that the defending alliance would get the chance to deploy a full defense fleet into this system, even if it was three regions away from their capital.

    CCP was not happy with this. They wanted a mechanic where these systems would see use instead of serving as tokens of the size of an alliance’s e-peen. They want players spread out so that individual server nodes have to deal with less, they want assets to be more vulnerable, they want people taking risks and making money (which is what keeps people hooked and buying subs/plex), they want more consequential pvp content and consequential pvp content at all scales (more meaningful battles happening between subcapital forces).

    Thus, fozziesov. Now these systems can be taken quickly and effectively, given that the sov holder will be facing multiple small attacks at any given time. It forces alliances to focus around the systems that they can actually defend instead of owning large expanses of null for no real reason, effectively blocking thousands of systems’ worth of content.

    Alliances with lots of territory can still keep a lot of their space, however, by renting out systems. Previously, the only incentive an alliance had to rent was isk, so renting would always cost huge amounts of money. Now it is a way to keep your indexes up and hold on to your sov.

    The Goons figured this out pretty quickly, and rolled out Section 8 — full access to Pure Blind with no monthly fee, only consistently charging a percentage of ratting income. Black Legion, on the other hand, is still expecting people to part with as much as 9bil/month for some of their systems in Fountain, as do many other alliances in their respective renter areas. Unless these people adapt to the new sov meta, we will see them lose much if not all of their sov. There is no way an elite but small group like Black Legion can effectively defend multiple fronts.

    Another system that works and will keep working is the way Provibloc has always kept their sov. Have many smaller alliances living under one coalition banner around the same area, keeping the space well-used and maintaining mutual protection agreements.

    Now, to address the two main points about solo and casual players.

    Solo players have never had any prospect of sov. CCP has always made some activities exclusive to groups; they’ve always promoted P2P interaction. Your only chance at living in null at all as a solo player is either doing explo or living in NRDS space in Providence. To hold sov at all, you need a pretty big group. If it is a group of casual players, you will need MANY casual players operating in the same timezone to have a chance, and probably a lot of allies, not to mention good in-game and out-of-game communication channels. If you can’t get a 40-man fleet up on a whim (or at least a 20-man fleet of experienced pilots in blinged-out ships), don’t expect to hold sov.

    Smaller casual groups can still access null through rental programs like section 8, or simply moving into a system under NRDS, and live quite comfortably. Furthermore, if the group has a strong PvP or industrial background, it has a pretty good chance at joining an existing sovholder alliance that is recruiting corps, even if it is made up of casual players.

    Lastly, I think the constantly worrying about having your sov taken is provisional. The new system will take some time to reach an equilibrium. Once it does, there will be more people in null, each sovholder will have a very strong presence in a handful of systems (more if they are big, but still much fewer than is currently the norm), and taking sov will be seen as much more of a hassle than it is actually worth. The current ease of small gang sov warfare will become less and less feasible as the big boys lose their unused systems and new holders move in, ready to defend their 3 or 4 systems to the death.

    Right now, many groups are just going around entosis-ing whatever they can find, because it is easy, quick, fun, and guarantees a fight. These groups sometimes manage to capture systems. However, these groups probably will not hold onto their sov. Eventually, they themselves will be attacked by groups who can take chunks of their sov and actually intend to defend it.

    These groups will have a target area they want to defend, and will make friends with most of the groups that move into the neighboring systems. I think it will look like providence currently looks — mutually defensive space belonging to a different alliance every few systems — minus the overlord (CVA) and the NRDS.

    At east these are my thoughts as a half-drunk 10 month old noob.

    Following their current trend of rewarding active involvement and penalizing passive gameplay, I expect CCP to start messing with in-system mechanics like the local channel next. It is currently imbalanced both because it gives immediate notification to everyone in the system when a hostile comes in, and because it makes cloaky camping a viable way to disrupt activity in an entire system. I don’t think they’d go all the way as to remove it like in wormholes, or even go as far as implementing a delay on new players showing up, but they will probably do something.

    • Interesting view. My comments were mostly directly at structures and their use by small groups in Hi, Low, and Wormhole space. While I agree CCP doesn’t have to consider Sov holding by solo players / very small groups, I still suspect the attackers efforts and risks are too trivial against smaller groups trying to defend.

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